How to resign from a job without burning bridges

Figuring out how to resign from a job can be tough. On the one hand, the time was right to change jobs and you’re eager to move on to a new career, possibly with higher pay and more responsibilities. 

But on the other, you don’t want to upset anyone at your current employer. They gave you a job in the first place, and they probably helped you pick up some valuable skills and experience along the way. Plus, you might need something from them down the line.

With that in mind, we’re going to look at how best to resign from your job while remaining professional and courteous. That way, you can leave your current employer without burning any bridges. 

How to resign from work in 3 steps

1.    Write a letter of resignation

Start by writing your letter of notice, otherwise known as a resignation letter. You should do this only when you have received confirmation of the job offer from your future employer - don’t hand in your notice before you have this in writing.

A notice letter is a formal document that should contain the following information:

  • Your name and job title
  • Your intention to resign from your role
  • Your notice period and final date of employment

Beyond this basic information, you might wish to explain your reasons for leaving, and if you have a good relationship with your line manager, you may also want to include a sentence or two thanking them for their support during your time in the role.

Once you’ve spoken to your manager (see step #2), send them your resignation letter, copying in your human resources team if relevant.

2.    Speak to your boss

Before sending your letter of notice, speak to your line manager to let them know about your plans. It’s common courtesy to tell them face to face rather than forcing them to learn of your impending departure via email.

Ideally, this conversation will take place in person. If that’s not possible, arrange a video call.

3.    Figure out how to communicate your departure

In tandem with your line manager, other senior figures, and possibly your HR team, you’ll need to come up with a plan for telling everyone else about your forthcoming departure.

Depending on your seniority and the type of company you work for, this could be very easy or very difficult. If you don’t work in a client-facing role and have no direct reports, it should be simply a matter of communicating the news to your colleagues. But if you run a team, have a lot of direct client contact, or both, things become more complex.

4.    Work your notice period

Your contract of employment will contain details of your notice period. For junior-level jobs, this is probably no longer than a month, but for more senior positions, it could be three months or more.

Whatever the case, it is essential that you see out your notice period, unless your managers agree it’s more appropriate for you to leave sooner. Your role in those final weeks or months is to ensure a smooth transition, complete all your outstanding tasks, and leave handover information for whoever takes on your workload once you’ve left.

The best way to resign from different types of jobs

The above best practices apply to any type of job. But for some job types, additional factors might come into play:

How to resign from a part-time job

For the vast majority of part-time jobs, the resignation process is identical to leaving a full-time job. Just because you only work part-time hours, that doesn’t mean you should expect to leave without working your notice period.

How to resign from a contract job

Contract jobs last for a set amount of time, typically from three months to a year. That makes quitting a little more complicated — although, in most cases, it’s still possible to resign “early”.

Your first port of call should be to study your contract document. This should set out the rules by which you can legally break the contract. Seek legal assistance if you need help with any of the terminology or clauses. If the contract doesn’t offer grounds for early termination, your best bet is to attempt to renegotiate the terms so you can find a solution that works for both parties.

Assuming you’re allowed to leave before the end of the contract, it’s still important that you give notice. Your contract may stipulate the required length of notice; if not, it’s still traditional to give two weeks’ notice before leaving. In some instances, you might wish to work a longer notice period, such as if:

  • The project you’re currently working on is at a critical stage, or is nearly finished
  • The role requires you to hand over a lot of crucial information
  • You’ve been working for the organisation for a long time

What’s next?

Handed in your notice? Check out our advice on how to conduct yourself during your notice period, and prepare for your next role by exploring our content on growing your career

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